2006_01_lilredlg.jpgName, occupation, where do you live and where are you from.
Kelly Kwedar, Clinical Practice Supervisor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Ft. Greene by way of Baltimore, Maryland.

What exactly does a Clinical Practice Supervisor at Sloan Kettering do?
I manage several outpatient clinics. Sorry, there is no way to make that sexy.

How long have you been at Sloan and how did you come about your position?
I was working as a studio manager of mural company when Sept. 11th happened. I loved the job but after that, no one could afford pricey faux finishes in their dens or murals in their restaurants. I was paying the artists, but couldn't pay myself. So it was time for a career change, which I thought would be for the short term. Three years later, I spend most of my days contemplating how to make clinics function more efficiently, working on staff development and in a small way making patient experience better through a tough time. Also, I'm enjoying amazing health insurance, which is great for a derby girl.

Besides working at Sloan Kettering, you're also compete in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby - two seemingly incongruent things (causing pain, helping people with pain). How do your co-workers and other people react when they find out that you're also involved with the Derby? How did you first get involved with it and is there a story behind your nickname besides the red hair?
Life is pain. And whether you are easing it or giving it out, it is definitely a basic common denominater. I think we are all different people at work in some ways and it is good to have a balance of doing good by day and playing out your bad side at night. In both work and derby, it is all about making true connections with people and that is one of the most important things in my life. I think my co-workers were confused and surprised at first, but those who knew me understood I had it in me. I guess it doesn't hurt that the staff know I am there for them, but I can also lay down the law when necessary.

I found about derby through a small blurb in a magazine and contemplated going for a month but feared I wouldn't be tough enough to do it. After meeting the amazing woman (Chassis Crass) who had co-founded the league, and the other skaters I knew it was the right place for me. Where else can you spend a night knocking people down then knocking back a Jameson while discussing strategy? My name is very much a reflection of my dual life. I can be a nice, sweet girl next door but if you cross me or try to hurt any of my girls my head will spin and the true terror comes out.

As the captain of the travel team that is heading to Arizona for the Dust Devil Invitational, do you use any of your motivational skills from roller derby at work and vice versa?
To work well as a team you have to have a leader that has clear focus of the goals at hand and how to achieve them. You also need someone who can help people focus on those goals, understand what each player excels at and bring out their best. I think that is the same for both work and derby. Though it is a lot more fun to scream at your team "Let's Kick Ass," then "Wow, Janet you did an excellent job with that difficult patient interaction."

How does New York expect to do against the rest of the cities and is it hard to play with some of your regular season competitors?
One of the great things about GGRD is that we all want to make derby a premier sport in NYC and the world so we are all focused on a similar goal. We want everyone to catch the derby bug and we all want to win. Also, playing with your competitors helps you to see the game in a new perspective and some ways give you some insider information for the upcoming season. The NYC team is training hard and I know we will make NYC proud in the tourney. How can we not? We're Newyorkfu@ncity.

For those unfamiliar with roller derby, what does your positions of jammer and blocker do? How did you end up in those position? Do you have to be in tip-top shape?

Like any sport, we condition our bodies and train as skaters. To be an good skater you have to be fast on your skates, have great endurance, quick witted for the strategy, and solid as an oak.

As for the game, their are four blocking positions and one jammer position. The pivot is a blocker, sets the pace and leads the group of skaters, and the blockers stay behind them, guarding each other in what we call "the pack." The jammers are the scoring skaters and start about 20 feet behind the pack. When the whistle blows, the pack takes off. On a second whistle, the jammers start fighting their way through the pack. When the first jammer makes it through the pack, she's designated the "lead jammer" . The jammers must lap the pack once before sprinting through the pack to score points by passing members of the opposing team. A jam lasts a maximum of two minutes, but the lead jammer has the right to call off the jam by putting her hands on her waist. The rest of the team tries to stop the opposing jammer from passing them and scoring. At the same time, they knock around the opposing team's blockers to help their jammer score.

2006_01_lilredeye.jpgWhat's the nastiest injury/spill you've had? And the worst you've inflicted?
At our expo bout I took a nasty block during the last jam that landed me face first on the rink. I ended up with a hot shiner and about a year later my retina hemorrhaged in the same eye, which actually left me seeing red for several months since blood blocked my vision. But derby girls aren't particular proud of the specific pain they inflict to each other. What we are really our proud of is our own bruises and scars. When someone has an amazingly large bruise or an hot scar you know they worked hard during that game.

What would most people find surprising about roller derby?
One of the most frustrating thing about derby is people don't realize it is an actual sport. We are true athletes, practicing 3 - 4 times a week to excel at what we do. Don't let the short skirts and fishnets fool you, our skills are honed through hours of practice. Once someone comes to a game, they are hooked by the fast paced action, the competitive spirit and athleticism of the sport. Okay, there usually is a fight or two, but everything is 100% real.

During the transit strike, would it be safe to assume that you skated to work?
As a person partially responsible for coordinating how 100's of employees were going to get to work during the strike it just wasn't practical to skate to work. I carpooled at 5:00am everyday to be prepared for the patients that we needed to see.

What place or thing would you declare a landmark?
The Skatekey, where we hold our games, so we can re-furbish the place and make it a derby palace.

What advice, if any, would you give to Mayor Bloomberg?
Re-tract the smoking ban, save CBGB's, doing something about the ridiculous rents and turn the Atlantic Avenue Railyards into a derby stadium not a freakin sports/condo complex that is going ruin the neighborhood. Oh and can you lend me a couple hundred thou?

When you just need to get away from it all, where is your favorite place in NYC to be alone?
It is New York, we are never alone. When I need to get away from it all, I call my favorite derby girls for some drinks and good conversation at the closest dive bar.

Photos by Nina Rich